Originally written on The Queensbury Rules  |  Last updated 9/20/14
Brandon Rios and Mike Alvarado are not like most humans. They’re not even like most boxers, a class of people who, to varying degrees, must suppress their self-preservation instinct. At the lowest end, the “hit and don’t get hit” subset of stylists still know what they’re in for when they enter the boxing ring, because the mere act of stepping between the ropes requires an understanding that pain and punishment are inevitable. The “take two punches to give one” types have to tamp down the self-preservation instinct yet more, but Rios and Alvarado aren’t even like most of them, the brawlers who fight that way because it’s their best chance to win. Rios and Alvarado can. Not. Help. Themselves. They are adherents to the school of violence for violence’s sake. Rios grins like the Joker when he gets punched. Alvarado, apparently, indulges in casual extracurricular knife fights during training camp. You could imagine well in advance how a fight between these two junior welterweights might play out, and that’s why the match was made last year. It’s why it was the Fight of the Year for 2012 and it’s why we’re getting a rematch Saturday on HBO. The worst thing you can say about Rios-Alvarado II is that whereas last year it was viewed, nearly universally, as competitive, it is not this time. There a few answers to this, none of them bad: The ending of the first fight was not so conclusive because the referee made a borderline call to step in and save Alvarado, but if not for the TKO loss, Alvarado might’ve had a chance to win a decision; Alvarado didn’t fight as well for the entirety of the fight as he could’ve and should’ve; and even if it’s not competitive, so what? – it will be thrilling for every second both of them are standing. Worst case scenario: It’s not as good as the first, but even this accounting of lackluster sequels features a number of fights that weren’t at all bad ones. It does not hurt that these are two of the top 10 men in one of boxing’s best couple divisions, but it’s not the root of the match-up’s appeal. It’s the action, literally every second filled with it. As I mentioned last year in writing about why it was the Fight of the Year, the 5th round featured an average 2.6 punches thrown per second. And they were not meant, to borrow a metaphor from Ricky Hatton, to tickle. Alvarado had the advantage the first time in better technique – he could box and move when he needed to, not that anyone other than Richard Abril could box and move (and, yes, clinch) against Rios for 12 rounds without being forced to trade at times. He was also thought to be the bigger man, as Rios was moving up in weight after several fights straining to make 135. Rios, though, proved the harder hitter of the two, and it looked like he handled the punches better at 140 than 135, which makes sense given that he was surely drained badly at lightweight. Alvarado did have a reach advantage, and when he kept things on the outside, he fared better. Alvarado has a jab and a long right hand that were his most effective, if not most punishing, blows of the first fight. Rios, meanwhile, is far happier on the inside, firing away hooks to the head and body and uppercuts. Rios has talked about improving his defense for the rematch, but he’s mostly hopeless because he is totally unwilling. His skill is on the offensive end, although you will occasionally see him slip a punch if it’s going to help him set up his own offense. Alvarado is more offense than defense, too, but he’s not as flat-footed and has better upper body movement. Both could be better defenders if they really wanted, but Alvarado has more capacity to protect himself, although neither would suddenly become Floyd Mayweather-style geniuses even if that’s all they practiced. Here, a note must be made of how Rios has been practicing. He is doing so with Angel Heredia, the controversial strength and conditioning coach once affiliated with BALCO and whose work with Juan Manuel Marquez has led to intense public doubt about the validity of Marquez’s knockout of Manny Pacquiao. Perhaps Heredia’s methods are valid; perhaps they are not. The facts are, Marquez was far more physically enormous and muscular under Heredia than before him, and his punching power superior in the last Pacquiao bout. If Rios can acquire the same gains, the knock that Rios-Alvarado II will “be just like the first fight, only shorter” becomes a virtual certainty. With the kind of damage these two men have done to each other, and how much they’ve endured their whole careers, it’s possible that one or both of them might be a bit less than his peak ability to sustain more, and Alvarado’s hopes would be boosted by a diminished Rios. Alvarado’s case probably rests most on his ability to fight smart. It’s what he has said he intends to do – stay on the outside more, not get dragged into fighting so often. Rios is counting on Alvarado abandoning those pretenses once the brawl is afoot, however. And if Alvarado is brawling in his spare time, it’s difficult to imagine him not brawling when he’s got another brawler in front of him, ready to brawl it out. Ipso facto: “Just like the first fight, only shorter.” And gladly received.

Eric Decker defends wife over social media comments

Brandon Marshall taken to hospital following injury

DeMarco Murray's alleged texts to ex-teammate's wife shared

Dodgers, Padres reportedly in trade talks for Matt Kemp

David Ortiz: I haven't spoken to A-Rod in almost one year

Ryan Leaf released from prison, looks shockingly different


Art Briles: It's un-American to keep TCU ahead of Baylor

Gronkowski not worried about 'Bieber Curse': 'On to San Diego'

Texans place Jadeveon Clowney on injured reserve list

Nebraska hires Mike Riley as new football coach

Michael Vick doesn’t view being benched as being benched

Report: Jay Gruden has issues with RG3 on and off field

WATCH: Blimp crashes info fans at Blazers-Pacers game

WATCH: UCF beats ECU with game-ending Hail Mary

Cuba's new baseball revolution

Are the Dallas Mavericks title contenders?

Kobe Bryant, Rajon Rondo had breakfast together in Boston?

10 best available 2015 MLB non-tenders

10 candidates to replace Mike Riley at Oregon State

WATCH: Arian Foster speaks to media in British accent

Jim McElwain hired as Florida Gators football coach

NFL MVP Race: J.J. Watt or Aaron Rodgers?

WATCH: Ed Reed asks if hanging with Bieber could hurt Patriots

Ranking the NFL’s remaining nationally televised games

Boxing News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Eric Decker defends wife from critics

Big Papi: I haven't spoken to A-Rod

Are the Mavs title contenders?

Gronk not worried about 'Bieber Curse'

10 best available MLB non-tenders

10 candidates to replace Mike Riley at Oregon State

Gruden has off-field issues with RG3?

NFL's top nationally televised games left

The great un-busting of Mark Sanchez

WATCH: One-handed boy golfs with Tiger

Mavs coach T'd up for Cuban?

Torii Hunter rips reporter at presser

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.